Economist charges Buhari on economic blue-print
A renowned economist and Director-General of West African Institute for Financial and Economic Management (WAIFEM) and formal Vice-Chancellor of University of Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, Professor Akpan Hogan Ekpo, has charged the President Muhammadu Buhari led government on economic blue-print that will bring Nigeria out of the woods.
Speaking at the inaugural lecture, organised by Centre for Financial Journalism, in Lagos, yesterday, Ekpo noted that the economy is in distress and recession. He flays the fact that there is no economic blue-print apart from party manifesto and other pronouncements by the government.
Ekpo, who spoke on the topic: “The Nigerian Economy in Distress: Policy Choices for Buhari’s Administration,” indicated that Buhari has several polices choice both in the short and medium terms.
According to him, the regime of President Buhari has been in office for almost 10 months and Nigerians are becoming restive not only on which direction the economy is moving but also on whether change is actually taking place.
He pointed out that most of the macroeconomic fundamentals of the previous administration have not changed particularly after 10 months of new regime.
“Even the 2016 budget of President Buhari is surrounded with controversies; oil prices have dropped sharply thus affecting government revenue; the declines in the foreign reserves and massive depreciation of the local currency have resulted in unorthodox monetary and exchange rate policies by Apex Bank.
“Some of these issues have reawakened stakeholders in the Nigerian project to debate the policy options for Buharis administration. What is the economic blue-print of the Buhari’s administration? Can Nigerian economy be structurally transformed within the next four years? It is important to indicate that the global economic environment is not favourable,” he stated.
He said, the growth has slowed in the advance economies and the Chines economy is also experiencing slow growth, he added that the downward trend of commodity prices suggests that countries like Nigeria must look for domestics resources to finance development.
According to him, that investment in power particularly would enhance growth and generate employment. These according to him, would result in the establishment of new micro and small-scale business industries as well as sustaining existing ones.
He also said that the release of the funds for infrastructure in the 2016 budget would enhance liquidity in the system.
He disclosed that the 2016 budget estimates will provide recruitment of 500, 000 teachers and the visible hand of government must recruit persons into all the security agencies such as the police, army, air force, navy, immigration and customs.
He added that investment in housing sector through mortgage process would stimulate growth and generates employment. Employment in the housing sector would involve both skilled and unskilled labour.
Ekpo stressed that the modernisation of agriculture and industrialisation of the economy would generate employment as the economy grows.
According to him, the 36 States economies must play their role in putting the Nigerian economy on the path of growth and development. He advised states to design strategies and programmes that would attract investors as well as generate employment.
Speaking further, Ekpo said that the government should be concerned about what would grow the economy than celebrating what they called a marginal gain.
He emphasised on the economic nationalism which involves the need to strategically depend on domestic resources with selective engagement with the outside world, which would result in some element of change and also fine-turning the existing framework.
“Economic nationalism would bring about some changes since it involves massive investment in hard and soft infrastructure, the provision of basic amenities to Nigerians, building of strong institutions and among others,” he said.
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